Documentary Explores 16 LGBT People You Should Know
The Out List is a poignant documentary profiling 16 LGBT individuals.
The subjects range from celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen DeGeneres, to Log Cabin Republican Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper (a Floridian) and AIDS activist Larry Kramer. Each segment runs less than five minutes, creating the hour-long film, which will air on HBO on June 27.
In a recent phone interview, Greenfield-Sanders, who grew up in Miami [Fun fact: his family moved to Key West in 1880!] chatted with South Florida Gay News about making The Out List.
Gary M. Kramer: What were your criteria for the interview subjects?
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders: It’s very difficult to pick 16 people out of millions of people. There are so many white males who are accomplished, so it’s difficult to choose and find an equal amount of men and women, bisexuals, and transgender subjects and give everyone an equal opportunity. I wanted to avoid having too many celebrities. You want stories that are fresh and new, like Lupe Valdez, the sheriff from Texas.
GMK: The monologues address coming out, validation, resilience, and marriage equality. How did the topics for discussion arise?
TG-S: Generation 8 was the original title, because it was the post-Prop 8 Generation. We wanted to examine LGBT rights in America post-Prop 8. It started to focus too much on marriage. As so many other issues are in the public eye — financial equality being one of them — we thought it would be more of a list film like the others (e.g., The Black List, The Latino List). But marriage is certainly a big theme in the film. We started with Ellen, and after that, we knew we had covered some marriage equality, so we would try to focus on other areas. Different people have agendas, and as you are editing, you have an hour of material to cut down to 3-4 minutes. So we have Lupe Valdez talking about spirituality as her way of coming to terms with her sexuality. So we had that covered.
GMK: Who/what surprised you in the stories you heard?
TG-S: I think it moved me more than surprised me. There is a lot of emotion in the film. It’s very hard to sit in front of a camera and talk about yourself and about something as personal as sex and gender, no matter how media savvy you are. I think R. Clarke Cooper serves a purpose. There are a lot of very conservative gay people who are Republicans, who believe — as he does — that we’re closer to a Republican agenda than a Democratic one. How are you part of that world and at the same time, they hate you? I think he’s quite interesting. You want that range.
GMK: How did you come up with the order for the list?
TG-S: The hardest thing was what order to put them in. We opened with Neil Patrick Harris. He was very funny. But who is the best person to close the film, to say something that is the most universal? I think Cynthia Nixon does that. You know her through Sex and the City, but she’s very educated, and political. I very much liked her.
GMK: Who did you identify with?
TG-S: Lady Bunny, of course! [Laughs]. That’s a good question. I’d say, in a funny way, Larry Kramer. I was very politicized by AIDS. My wife and I were living in New York in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. And our friends were all dying. It made us realize how short life is. She left her job on Wall Street. I was in the art world, and many artists I knew, like Keith Haring, had died. Larry reminded me of those years in the ‘80s.